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Miso Soup with Mushrooms, Tofu and Mitsuba

Posted on November 30, 2009 at 12:43 PM Comments comments (0)

Shitake, Enoki and Tofu Miso Soup with Mitsuba

I still have some beautiful vegetable stock left over from the Butternut Squash soup I made for Thanksgiving.  Both the stock and the soup came from Thomas Keller's recipes in his Buchon Cookbook.  It took more than 5 lbs of leeks, onions, fennel and carrots to put the stock together and more vegetables, including the butternut which was partially roasted, to make the soup. But it was well worth the effort because everyone loved it. I used this left over stock to make miso soup this morning.  I hesistated to put miso in it at first, thinking that the scent of fennel, thyme, garlic, sage might be overwhelming in a miso soup but on the contrary, it came out delicious. This soup can also be made quickly with any fresh vegetable stock of your choice or regular dashi, using dried Bonito flakes and Kombu.  I used Mitsuba, as a garnish.  Mitsuba is a very refreshing Japanese herb. It has hints of mint, parsely, celery and chervil. You can find Mitsuba at the Japanese markets all year around.   

RECIPE:
Serves 4

3 1/2 cups Dashi or Vegan Dashi  
3 Tbls or more of Miso (Mugi Miso or Koji Miso) to taste
1/2 bunch of enoki mushrooms
2 shitake mushrooms, halved and sliced thinly, 1/8 inch thick
1/2 tofu, medium or soft, cut into small cubes, about 1/4 inch
1/2 bunch chopped mitsuba leaves or 3 tbls chopped chives

Bring the Dashi to a boil in a medium saucepan, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Put the tofu and the shitake mushrooms and simmer for a couple of minutes.

Add the enoki mushrooms and cook for another minute.


In a small bowl, dissolve 3 1/2 tablespoons of the miso paste in a few tablespoons of the warm Dashi. Add the mixture to the saucepan. Taste and add more miso paste, Dashi or water, depending on how strong the soup tastes. Turn off heat.


Pour the soup into individual bowls.

 


Serve with chopped mistuba or chives.



Dissolve the miso paste with some dashi before you add
it to the soup.

Tororo Kombu Soup with Umeboshi

Posted on November 28, 2009 at 12:08 PM Comments comments (4)


Tororo Kombu, sliced negi and umeboshi

Yesterday, I was still feeling full from the Thanksgiving feast.  Since there are no leftovers except for the one reject apple pie that stayed home, I am almost back to my regular eating pattern.  I made a tororo kombu soup for breakfast this morning.  The combination of the slightly vinegary taste of tororo kombu and the salty umeboshi has a calming effect on the tummy.  It was delicious.


Tororo Kombu Soup with Umeboshi

RECIPE:

31/2 cups Dashi or Vegetarian Dashi
4 small umeboshi, pitted and minced, about 3 1/2 teaspoons 
3 tbls sliced negi or scallions
4 tbls tororo kombu
3 tbls sake
1 tbls mirin
1 tsp soysauce

Remove the pit and mince the umeboshi.  The citric acid
in umeboshi helps digestion.

The tororo is one fine lumpy mass of kombu so cut and separate it into bite size pieces.  
In a saucepan, bring dashi over medium heat.  Add the sake, mirin, and soysauce.  Simmer for a couple of minutes.  Turn of heat and add the tororo kombu, minced umeboshi and sliced negi or scallions.  Gently mix the soup a couple times to incorporate  all the ingredients.  The soup is slimy but amazingly good. (yes, it looks like I scooped algae out of a pond!)  Serve it in small bowls.   


Tororo kombu in its hydrated form.


Kabocha Squash Soup Made With Dashi

Posted on November 25, 2009 at 5:04 PM Comments comments (0)


Kabocha squash soup made with dashi and garnished
with shiso

It turns out that I don't have to worry about the turkey this year. Our friends Kathy and Russ invited us for Thanksgiving.  I offered to make a couple side dishes: a soup and a pie.  Later, it dawned on me that my entire Thanksgiving assignment rested on two side dishes that start and finish the festive meal.  Maybe I should relax about it but when my pie crust wasn't coming together like it should, I was on skype asking my pastry chef sister Fuyuko in Tokyo for advise. She had a quick answer.  Dump the dough, and start all over again......oh, well, I still have another day to improve on my crust making skills.  As for the pumpkin soup, I am doing much better.  I went to my cookbooks shelf and picked out Thomas Keller's Buchon cookbook and decided to make his Butternut Squash Soup.  I have made it twice already. It came out very tasty both times but I omitted the honey from his recipe the second time because the butternut was naturally sweet. Now I am on a roll with squash. This morning for breakfast, I made a different  soup with Kabocha squash, using dried bonito flakes and kombu based dashi stock.  Unlike Keller's recipe, which easily takes about five pounds of vegetables, including leeks, carrots, fennel to make the perfumy vegetable stock, and more vegetables to finish the soup, the dashi took less time and just a couple of ingredients to put it together, and its savoriness worked very well with the kabocha.

Kabocha squash - a heavy six  pounder

This kabocha squash however, was not as sweet as the butternut squash I used in Keller's recipe.  I added some mirin and honey to give the squash some depth of flavor.  The honey gave it a slight caramel taste, which I liked.  Here is how to make my kabocha squash soup in case you are looking for a tasty fat free soup to serve on Thanksgiving or to enjoy for breakfast as I did. There is some Thomas Keller influences in the garnish.

Tomorrow, I have to roast a pumpkin to finish Keller's soup.  I am praying that my apple pie turns out well.  The raisins for the pie are soaking in the rum but they are slowly disappearing.  They are irresistible. Can't wait for tomorrow to come.

RECIPE:
Serves 4 

2 lbs kabocha squash (about 1 small kabocha squash), peeled and cut into 3 inch pieces. 
31/2 cups Dashi broth (here is the link
1 tbls soysauce to taste
1 tbls mirin 
1-2 tsp honey to taste 
2 pinches of salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Garnish: 2 shiso leaves, chopped or 2 tbls chives, chopped
Additional garnish: Creme fraiche and Olive oil (optional)

Peeling the pumpkin can be tedious but worth the trouble.
For this soup, peel all the skin.

Cook the cut kabocha squash pieces in the dashi for 12-15 minutes, or until the kabocha pierces easily with a fork.  Add the soysauce, mirin, a pinch of salt and pepper, and mix them into the soup. Put the kabocha and the seasoned dashi in a food processor or blender to make a puree.  Now taste the soup.  If it needs to be sweeter, add a teaspoon of honey or two.  This will depend on the pumpkin's natural sweetness and your palate. Adding another pinch of salt or two will also intensify the flavor.  You can put the soup through a fine strainer for a creamier finish. If the soup is too thick, add more dashi.

To serve, ganish the heated soup with chopped shiso or chives.

Optional serving method: For a richer soup, you can drop a teaspoon of creme fraiche with a pinch of chopped shiso or chives on top, and drizzle some extra-virgen olive oil. Thomas Keller does this with his butternut squash soup, and it works with this kabocha soup too.  

Shimeji mushrooms and Tofu Miso Soup

Posted on November 6, 2009 at 5:13 AM Comments comments (0)





With so much going on around the house, my routine breakfast was interrupted for awhile.

I often found myself eating just a piece of toast and that was it for breakfast.  It's so much healthier to start the day with a bowl of miso soup.  I made it this morning with shimeji mushrooms and tofu.  I have some Negi, Japanese scallions, left over from the soba workshop.  I still picture  Akila Inouye slicing the Negi in mid-air.  The flavor of those uncrushed sliced negi was truely amazing.  



Akila's cut negi, soaking in water


RECIPE:

Serves 4


3 1/2 cups Vegan Dashi or Dashi

3 1/2 to 4 tablespoons Mugi, Koji, white or red miso or a combination of any two

1 package shimeji mushrooms, ends removed (about a cup)

1/2 square of soft tofu,


 

Bring the Dashi to a boil in a medium saucepan, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Put the tofu into the dashi.  Break it up with a ladle.  Add the mushrooms  and simmer for a couple of minutes.


 

In a small bowl, dissolve 3 1/2 tablespoons of the miso paste in a few tablespoons of the warm Dashi. Add the mixture to the saucepan. Taste and add more miso paste, Dashi or water, depending on how strong the soup tastes. Turn off heat.

 

Pour the soup into individual bowls.


Serve immediately.

 

Optional: You can also add chopped hydrated maitake mushrooms you used to make the vegan dashi.

 


Vegan Miso Soup with Heirloom Tomato, Wakame and Tofu

Posted on October 19, 2009 at 12:51 PM Comments comments (0)

There is a lot going on outside this morning.  Our Oxacan gardner, Eddie, and Sakai are sanding and painting the patio. I am happy that the patio is finally getting a make-over but boy, is it noisy. I still practiced my morning ritual  of making soup, using for the first time, my homemade dried Maitake mushrooms to make a vegetarian dashi.  I could have discarded the mushrooms after making it but they were too precious. I chopped the mushrooms up and put them in the miso soup for additional texture. They are chewy and tasty but some people might find them on the rubbery side. The same texture can be said about kombu seaweed, which was used to make this vegan dashi. I sliced it up and ate that too.  It's a great source of fiber and minerals.  


RECIPE:

3 1/2 cups Vegan Dashi or Dashi 

3 1/2 to 4 tablespoons Mugi, Koji, white or red miso or a combination of any two

1 tomato, cut in quarters, and then slice each quarter crosswise into 1/2-inch thick pieces

2 tsp wakame seaweed, hydrated and cut into bite size pieces

1/2 square of soft tofu, cut into 1/4 inch squares


 

Bring the Dashi to a boil in a medium saucepan, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer.  Add the hydrated wakame seaweed, tomatoes and tofu and simmer for a couple of minutes.  

 


In a small bowl, dissolve 3 1/2 tablespoons of the miso paste in a few tablespoons of the warm Dashi. Add the mixture to the saucepan. Taste and add more miso paste, Dashi or water, depending on how strong the soup tastes. Turn off heat.


 

Pour the soup into individual bowls.

 

Serve immediately.


Optional: You can also add chopped hydrated maitake mushrooms you used to make the vegan dashi. 


Miso Soup with Corn, Napa Cabbage and Spinach

Posted on October 18, 2009 at 4:00 PM Comments comments (0)


I hear from my friends in New York that it's like December weather over there.  Here in LA, we are back to summer again. I bought some corn from a local farmer who told me that corn is still good.  I didn't eat much corn this summer but the two times that I ate it, they were fantastic. Corn is delicious in miso soup.  I shucked a whole corn and put it in the breakfast miso soup with some spinach and napa cabbage.  I had two servings. 

   
   Still in season?

 


RECIPE

Serves 4

3 1/2 cups Dashi (see BASICS for Dashi broth recipe) or Dried Maitake Mushroom Dashi (here is the link for the recipe)

3 1/2 to 4 tablespoons Mugi, Koji, white or red miso

1 corn, shucked

3 spinach leaves, sliced thinly, 1/4 inch thick

2 napa cabbage leaves, sliced thinly, 1/4 inch thick

2 green onions, sliced thinly


 

Bring the Dashi and the diced potatoes to a boil in a medium saucepan, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, and add the corn and napa cabbage until they are tender, about 2 minutes.


 

In a small bowl, dissolve 3 1/2 tablespoons of the miso paste in a few tablespoons of the warm Dashi. Add the mixture to the saucepan. Taste and add more miso paste, Dashi or water, depending on how strong the soup tastes.


 

Add the spinach and Simmer for 1 minute. Turn off heat.

Pour the soup into individual bowls.


 

Sprinkle each bowl with chopped green onion. Serve immediately.







Satsuma-imo -Fall Miso Soup with Sweet Potato

Posted on October 17, 2009 at 5:14 AM Comments comments (1)

Satsuma-imo, washed and ready
Satuma-imo!  Satuma-Age.  I am cooking lots of things from Kyushu, the Southern Island of Japan. Didn't plan it that way.  Just happened to find a box full of Satsuma-sweet potatoes at the entrance of Nijiya Market and had to get some.  They are similar to sweet potatos but milder in flavor.  Yaki-imo, roasted satsuma potatoes, is a popular street food in Japan.  I don't  make soup with sweet potatoes that often but I wanted to celebrate their arrival.  It's a hearty soup.  I was so full this morning, I skipped lunch.





I cut the sweet potato into 1/4 inch dices

 

 

RECIPE:

 

MISO SOUP WITH SWEET POTATO AND TOFU

Serves 4


 

3 1/2 cups Dashi (see BASICS for Dashi broth recipe) or Maitake Mushroom Dashi (Vegan) 

3 1/2 to 4 tablespoons Mugi, Koji, white or red miso

1/2 satsuma potato or sweet potato, cut in quarters, and then slice each quarter crosswise into 1/2-inch thick pieces (about 1.5 cups) 

1 square of soft tofu

2 green onions, sliced thinly


 

Bring the Dashi and the diced potatoes to a boil in a medium saucepan, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 4 minutes.  


n a small bowl, dissolve 3 1/2 tablespoons of the miso paste in a few tablespoons of the warm Dashi. Add the mixture to the saucepan. Taste and add more miso paste, Dashi or water, depending on how strong the soup tastes.


 

Add the Tofu and Simmer for 1 minute. Turn off heat.

Pour the soup into individual bowls.


 

Sprinkle each bowl with chopped green onion. Serve immediately.

 

 



Miso Soup with Broccoli and Wakame Seaweed

Posted on October 15, 2009 at 7:30 PM Comments comments (3)


 


Did you eat your broccoli today?  Whenever I go away on business, I come back to find a nearly empty fridge at home, except for the vegetable compartment. There is always broccoli that keeps Sakai company. It's a good choice. This flowery green vegetable is a dependable food, packed with vitamins and dietary fiber and it is inexpensive in America.  I say this because the last time I priced a broccoli in Tokyo, I was shocked to find that a "single" broccoli branch can cost as much as $7.  I wanted to make broccoli soup for my Dad but I made pumpkin soup instead.  


At home in California, I feel grateful that I can eat broccoli whenever I want. I like to eat broccoli steamed, with a little sesame oil and soy sauce.  Sometimes, I make a whole meal out of it.  Today, I thought it would be nice to use it in my breakfast soup with wakame seaweed.  Wakame, like broccoli, is loaded with rich nutrients, especially minerals.   Wakame is not as common as broccoli in America but it will be sooner or later. I can vouch for that.



Here is a beautiful broccoli.  You can eat almost every part of it.



I separated the flowers from the stem.



I cut up the stem into small pieces and used them for the soup, too.


I hydrated some cut-wakame seaweed.  It only takes a few

minutes to hydrate into more than triple its original size.


RECIPE


Serves 4

 

RECIPE:

 

Miso Soup with Broccoli and Wakame seaweed


 

3 1/2 cups Dashi (see BASICS for Dashi broth recipe) or Dried Maitake Mushroom Dashi (Here is the link for recipe)

3 1/2 to 4 tablespoons Mugi, Koji, white or red miso or a combination of any two

1 tomato, cut in quarters, and then slice each quarter crosswise into 1/2-inch thick pieces

2 stalks of broccoli, stems cut into small pieces, 1/4 inch thick and flowers separated into bite-size pieces or smaller

2 Tbls wakame seaweed, hydrated and cut into bite size pieces


 

Bring the Dashi to a boil in a medium saucepan, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Add the broccoli and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the cut and hydrated wakame seaweed.


In a small bowl, dissolve 3 1/2 tablespoons of the miso paste in a few tablespoons of the warm Dashi.  Add the mixture to the saucepan. Taste and add more miso paste, Dashi or water, depending on how strong the soup tastes. Turn off heat.


Pour the soup into individual bowls.

 


Serve immediately.

 


Heirloom Tomato and Tofu Miso Soup

Posted on October 14, 2009 at 12:16 PM Comments comments (0)




Rain at last!  The rain was tapping so hard on the skylight window, it woke me up in the middle of the night.  I got up to make tea. I cleared up the dishes in the dish rack.  I didn't feel like going back to sleep so I started cooking. I  made dashi. Sounds a bit crazy but it is actually nice to work in the kitchen when everyone is sleeping and all you hear is the rain. My mother was worse than me. She used to bake pies in the middle of the night. This morning, I was all set to go with fresh dashi for my miso soup.  The last of my heirloom tomato made the rainy morning cheerful.  





RECIPE:


Miso Soup with Tomato and Tofu


 

 

3 1/2 cups Dashi (see BASICS for Dashi broth recipe) or Dried Maitake Mushroom Dashi (here is the link for recipe)

3 1/2 to 4 tablespoons Mugi, Koji, white or red miso

1 tomato, cut in quarters, and then slice each quarter crosswise into 1/2-inch thick pieces

1/2 square of soft tofu

2 green onions, sliced thinly


 

Bring the Dashi toa boil in a medium saucepan, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer.

 

 

 

In a small bowl, dissolve 3 1/2 tablespoons of the miso paste in a few tablespoons of the warm Dashi. Add the mixture to the saucepan. Taste and add more miso paste, Dashi or water, depending on how strong the soup tastes.


 

Add the Tomato and Tofu and Simmer for 1 minute. Turn off heat.

Pour the soup into individual bowls.


 

Sprinkle each bowl with chopped green onion. Serve immediately.















Miso soup with Chinese Cabbage and Spinach

Posted on October 12, 2009 at 11:50 PM Comments comments (0)




I cleaned out my fridge today.  That felt so good.  Sometimes, if I don't pay attention, the fridge can quickly turn into a white hole. Scary. I still have some nice Chinese Napa Cabbage and spinach left over from the Nabe dinner. Just a few leaves in the soup and you feel so healthy.  I seaoned the soup with barley mugi miso. This miso soup was light and comforting. You can also add tofu or wakame seaweed into the soup for extra flavor..


RECIPE


MISO SOUP WITH WITH CHINESE  NAPA CABBAGE AND SPINACH

Serves 4


3 1/2 cups Dashi (see BASICS for Dashi broth recipe) or Dried Maitake Mushroom Broth (Here is the link to the vegan recipe)

3 1/2 to 4 tablespoons Mugi, Koji, white or red miso

1 large leaf of Chinese, Napa Cabbage, washed, and sliced 1/4 inch thick

3 leaves of Spinach, washed, ends trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick

2 green onions, sliced thinly


 

Bring the Dashi to a boil in a medium saucepan, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer.


Add the Chinese Napa Cabbage let it simmer for a a minute.


In a small bowl, dissolve 3 1/2 tablespoons of the miso paste in a few tablespoons of the warm Dashi. Add the mixture to the saucepan. Taste and add more miso paste, Dashi or water, depending on how strong the soup tastes.


Add the spinach. Simmer  for 1 minute. Turn off heat.

Pour the soup into individual bowls.


Sprinkle each bowl with chopped green onion. Serve immediately.

 




Japanese Breakfast - I Stand for Goodness

Posted on October 11, 2009 at 5:30 PM Comments comments (0)



I am curious about what people eat for breakfast.  We got to talking about it with my Japanese friends Taku and Keiko the other night. They moved from Japan six years ago and live in Venice Beach. What's interesting is that when it comes to breakfast, Taku wants his bowl of rice, the Japanese way. Rice everyday? I asked him. "Yes, rice everyday. Not bread."  His wife Keiko, on the other hand, prefers a bowl of cereal, the American way.  Not rice. Not bread.  She comes from three generations of a cereal-loving modern Japanese family. Me? I am not big on cereal. They sit in the box and go stale. What about rice? I am partial to having rice for breakfast but I don' eat it as much as I used to when I was a child. My mother often made a wokful of fried rice during the morning rush to feed five children.  I can picture us coming down into the bright lemon yellow Pasadena kitchen and find my mother standing in front of her Kenmore stove dumping Green Giant's frozen vegetable mix and dehydrated onions into the day old rice to jazz up the flavor.  She served the fried rice in plastic Melmac ware that matched the color of the kitchen and the frozen vegetables. What I remember most about her breakfast fried rice was not so much the flavor but the texture of these still frozen squares of carrots and peas.  My teeth would always tingle when I bit into them.


In my adult life, I rarely use Green Giant frozen food in my cooking, even though they say it stands for goodness. I make miso soup and bread for breakfast and my family is happy.  If I do a full on Japanese breakfast of miso soup, steamed rice, grilled salmon, fermented soybean, natto, nori seaweed and pickles, my family is very happy.  I made miso soup this morning, with enoki mushrooms and tofu. We had some natural comb honey, a souvenir from North Carolina, and good butter to spread on the toasted baguette. It was all good. I kind of miss my mother's breakfast fried rice and the tingling sensation I got from eating those green -snappin' fresh, kitchen-sliced to taste the best veggies but what matters most, my mother would agree, is to eat a solid breakfast.  


RECIPE


Miso Soup with Tofu and Enoki Mushrooms


Serves 4


3 1/2 cups Dashi(here is the link) or Dried Maitake Mushrooms Dashi (here is the link to the vegan recipe)

3 1/2 to 4 tbls koji, white or red miso

6 oz soft tofu, drained

1/2 pack enoki mushrooms, ends trimmed

3 green onions, chopped thinly


Bring the Dashi to a boil in a medium saucepan, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer.  


In a small bowl, dissolve 31/2 tablespoons of the miso paste in a few tablespoons of the warm Dashi.  Add the mixture to the suacepan. Taste and add more miso paste, Dashi or water, depending on how strong the soup tastes.


Add the tofu to the soup.  Break up the tofu in the saucepan.  Add the enoki mushrooms. Pour the soup into individual bowls.


Sprinkle each bowl with chopped green onion.  Serve immediately.  






 


Morning After - Daikon Radish and Age Miso Soup

Posted on October 2, 2009 at 2:09 PM Comments comments (0)




I am feeling a little tired from the show last night. Sakai is still sleeping. I know he is really exhausted.  For an artist though, the work never stops.  Soon he will be back in his studio.  A bowl of miso soup can give us a boost of energy on a morning like this.  


I find a piece of daikon radish and deep fried tofu, Age, left over from making Inaris the other day. I will make a Miso Soup with these ingredients.  Using Deep-fried tofu, Age, in miso soup is very popular.  If you don't have age, you can substitute it with a block of medium or soft tofu.



   


RECIPE:

Serves 4


1 cup daikon radish, peeled and sliced into 1/8 inch matchsticks

2 pieces of Deep Fried Tofu, Age, blanched in hot water  or 1 block of soft or medium tofu

31/2 cups of Dashi (see link for recipe) or Dried Maitake Mushroom Dashi (here is the link for vegan recipe)

3-4 Tbls brown miso

1 scallion, chopped


 

Bring the Dashi to a boil in a medium saucepan, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer.


In a small bowl, dissolve 3 1/2 tablespoons of the miso paste in a few tablespoons of the warm Dashi. Add the mixture to the saucepan. Taste and add more miso paste, Dashi or water, depending on how strong the soup tastes.


Add the deep fried tofu and daikon radish pieces to the soup.  Bring to a simmer for 1-2 minutes.  Turn off heat.  Pour the soup into individual bowls.

Sprinkle each bowl with chopped green onion. Serve immediately.


Tip: Once you put the miso into the dashi stock, do not boil the stock but gently simmer

for a couple minutes unitl the miso is dissolved and the soup is heated. Reheating doesn't improve the flavor of miso soup so best if you serve it all at once.

 




 




If you are using age, make sure to blanch it with hot water to

remove excess oil.


I need to start with dashi(here is the link for the recipe)

because I used up my last batch.


Remove the Konbu before the water boils.



Turn off the heat and add the bonito flakes.  Let the broth

stand before you strain the flakes.



Voila!  In less than 5 minutes, you have a lovely dashi broth.




Dissolve the miso paste into the dashi. 


Add the sliced Daikon radish and Deep fried tofu, age, 

and bring to a simmer for a couple of minutes.


Turn off heat and garnish with chopped scallions or chives.


 

Buttering rituals

Posted on September 29, 2009 at 11:21 AM Comments comments (0)





Morning toast.


Sakai's been working in his studio from dawn to dusk. There is not enough time in the day when you need it. His show is almost together.  We loaded the big wooden sculpture on the truck. The wooden pieces are delicate.  We cover them with blankets.


I make Sakai a big breakfast: two eggs sunny side up with sliced tomatoes, toast and sliced melon.  I could also make miso soup but he's gone off to walk Ana so I will wait until he comes back. Miso soup only takes a couple minutes since I already have the dashi made. It's a traditional Japanese breakfast soup.


My breakfast compared to the sculptor's is simple. I don't need such a big breakfast, though health experts say everybody should eat a hearty breakfast.  I usually have toast with Jam or honey, some fruit and coffee.  I still have a little left of my homemade apricot butter.

I also have the artisinal butter I brought back from Montreal. I spread them on the toast, using my grandmother's butter knife.


I used to dislike butter as a child.  I would gawk at the sandwiches my mother made because she put too much butter on the bread.  It was as thick as a piece of American cheese. Eating butter was a luxury for my mother.  She grew up during the war feeling hungry for many years that when she was finally able to afford some luxury, she went overboard on butter, cream and milk.  She was that way with jam too.  My father used to stare in disapproval at the amount of jam she would spread on her toast. 


My grandmother used butter regularly for baking cakes. This was unusual for a Japanese lady born in 1902 but her parents were innovative.  In fact, she was one of the first Japanese ladies in Kamakura to own a western oven.  The women in the neighborhood would wander over to our house, wondering where the lovely aroma was coming from. So much so that Grandmother started giving lessons in baking. She handled the butter with great care and didn't allow any of it to go to waste. She even recycled the waxed paper in which the butter was wrapped to line her cakes. Grandmother was also rather English when it came to breakfast.  She had Black tea with milk, yogurt, toast with butter and jam. She would take her time to brew the tea and spread the butter on her toast.  She always used her favorite butter knife which she inherited from her father. My grandmother ate butter every day and lived to 102 years old.  Butter must have done her some good.


Finally, there is my 86 year old father who doesn't eat any butter except when I bake him butter cookies. Whenever I am back in Tokyo. He buys butter just for me so I can have it on my toast.  He brews the coffee and puts a little square of butter in the microwave to soften it so that when I come down to join him for breakfast, the butter is spreadable on the toast. He says he is my butler.


My mind is already full with  to-do-lists this morning.  When I sit down to have breakfast, however, I bring out my grandmother's knife.  I spread butter on my toast with quiet pace.  

It helps me start the day right. 

Miso soup with Tofu

Posted on August 19, 2009 at 5:20 PM Comments comments (0)









We've had cool weather in LA.  It was perfect weather for the eight mile hike we did up   Westridge fire road last Sunday.  I got my arm stung by a bee as we were coming down the mountain but otherwise, it was nice to be outdoors.  My hiking pal Ellen always asks the same question when we get to the top of the Santa Monica mountains, "So what does this remind you of?" and we all have the same answer,  "TUSCANY!"  (...........without the vineyards!).  See, you don't have to spend all the money or free miles to see Italy.  If you have never done this hike before,  try it.   it's very nice.  You can bring your dog along.


On cool summer days like this, you can have warm soup in the middle of the day and get a nice lift of energy.  I made some miso soup. It only took a few minutes to whip it up since I already had the Dashi broth ready.  Good girl.


For this miso soup, use the freshest tofu you can find.  I love Meiji Tofu.  You don't  have to cut the block of tofu in cubes.  Just put the half or whole block of tofu into the saucepan and break it up with the ladle to get uneven size pieces of tofu.  It is more fun and textural this way.   



MISO SOUP WITH TOFU

 

Active Work and Total Preparation Time: 10 minutes

 

3 1/2 cups Dashi (see BASICS for  Dashi broth recipe) or Dried Maitake Mushrooms Dashi (here is the link for the Vegan recipe)

 

3 1/2 to 4 tablespoons koji, white or red miso

 

6 ounces soft tofu, drained 

 

1 green onion, chopped, optional


 

Bring the Dashi to a boil in a medium saucepan, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer.

 

In a small bowl, dissolve 3 1/2 tablespoons of the miso paste in a few tablespoons of the warm Dashi. Add the mixture to the saucepan. Taste and add more miso paste, Dashi or water, depending on how strong the soup tastes.

 

Add the tofu to the soup.  Break up the tofu in the saucepan.

Pour the soup into individual bowls.

 

Sprinkle each bowl with chopped green onion. Serve immediately.


Kabocha Miso Soup with Myoga

Posted on June 9, 2009 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (0)


The kabocha was sitting on top of my counter for a couple of weeks waiting for me to cook it.  I love kabocha but peeling the thick skin is always a lot of work so I kept putting it off.   But once I make up my mind to cook kabocha,  the process of cutting and peeling is rather meditative. The skin is hard and thick so if you are not careful. I use a Japanese deba-knife, which is also used to cut bones.  It as a nice weight and a thick blade that keeps your hand steady.  


Tonight, I felt like miso soup.  It must be this weather - it can't make up its mind whether it wants to be hot or cold.  In the evening, the temperature gets down enough to want something warm and soupy.  I made this Kabocha miso soup which is light and summery but filling.  I garnsihed it with "Myoga", which is a type of ginger that has a wonderful fragrance and spice.  You can find myoga in Japanese markets at this time of the year. They are a bit expensive, about $2 per myoga. But you don't need to use very much.  It's a garnish that gives it a spicy lift.  As a child, I used to pick the wild ones that grew in the shade of our garden in Kamakura.  I don't think we could grow them in California because it is too dry here.   I like to use chopped myoga not only to garnish miso soup but also on tofu, grilled meats, rice and noodles.



  kabocha sliced with my deba knife. 


KABOCHA MISO SOUP WITH MYOGA GINGER

Serves 4 


  1. In a medium size pot, bring the dashi to a simmer. 
  2. Add the sliced kabocha and cook over medium heat until the kabocha is tender, about 7 minutes.
  3. Just before serving, dissolve the miso paste into the dashi broth. Turn off heat and serve immediately in small bowls with sliced myoga.

Kitchen note: Do not reheat the miso soup after the miso has been added. The flavor diminishes with reheating. So do it last minute.

 


 

 


Turnip Miso Soup with Chives

Posted on June 9, 2009 at 5:23 AM Comments comments (0)











TURNIP MISO SOUP WITH CHIVES


RECIPE


Serves 4 


  1. In a medium size pot, bring the dashi to a simmer. 
  2. Add the sliced turnip and cook over medium heat until the turnip is slightly tender, about 3 minutes. 
  3. Just before serving, dissolve the miso paste into the dashi broth. 
  4. Turn off heat and serve immediately in small bowls with chopped chives or scallions.
  5. Kitchen note: Do not reheat the miso soup after the miso has been added. The flavor diminishes with reheating. So do it last minute.




Scones with Orange zest

Posted on June 5, 2009 at 4:17 AM Comments comments (0)


Once in a while, it's nice to make scones or waffles at home.  My sister who is a pastry chef in Tokyo often makes waffles or scones for her son, Hayato, in the morning.  You think she would have enough things to do on a school day.  But she likes to put a smile onher son's face, so she does, plus she irons his clothes (I never did that for my son when he was little), makes him a bento box for lunch and gets ready to open her shop.  


This morning, I was in the mood for making scones for my  friend Marisa who spent the night at our house.  Putting the scone recipe together was not that much work.  I even started the washing machine. With the scones baking in the oven,  my kitchen began to smell like a bakery. While waiting for the scones to bake, Marisa showed me how to work  my new digital camera. My new camera came with three booklets worth of stuff to learn.  I am willing to tackle almost any complex recipe but when it comes to reading any kind of hardware instruction manual, I fail.  In contrast, Marissa is very patient. She put her reading glasses on, read the instructions and showed me how to make the camera work better.  I learned some new tricks. Her advise was " Don't use the Auto setting. Digital cameras have a mind of their own."  So true.  Ineed to play with the camera.  Learn the manual way.  It will take time but I will have better control of the camera.  By the way, the scones turned out great.  Marissa took some home.  There is still more for later.



SCONES WITH ORANGE ZEST

  • 2 Cups flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup half and half 
  • 2 tsp grated orange rind 

 

  1. Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.  Use a fork or knife to cut the butter into the flour until it becomes like a corse meal.
  2. Beat eggs with half and half.  Add orange rind and flour mixture.  Stir until just blended.  
  3. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough and make 3/4 inch thick circle.  Cut into 3 -inch circles. 
  4. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes or until the scones are brown.   
  5. Split the scones and serve while piping hot with butter, jam and clotted cream (if you can find it). 
  6. Makes about ten scones.

 



Fresh Pea soup with Tofu and Wakame

Posted on April 12, 2009 at 2:31 AM Comments comments (0)

'Omame no Sunomono'





FRESH PEA SOUP WITH TOFU AND WAKAME


Makes 4 servings


Imade this soup three days in a row.  Each day, I shucked more peas andthe soup  got prettier.  Tofu and seaweed add nice color contrast andflavor but it's the peas that make the spring statement.

  • 3 cups Dashi stock (see The Basics) or Dried Maitake Mushrooms Dashi (here is the link for the vegan recipe)
  • 1 cups fresh peas, shucked (more if you want)
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 Tbls dried cut wakame seaweed, (approx 1/3 cup reconstituted)
  • 6 oz tofu, silken type
  • 2 Tsp sake
  • 1.5 Tbls Usukuchi soy sauce (LIght color soy sauce)
  • 1.5 Tsp cornstarch

 

Make Dashi.


  1. Reconstitute the dried cut wakame seaweed.  Drain water and set aside.  The cut pieces should be about 1-inch pieces.  
  2. Cut tofu into tiny dice, about 1/8 inch in size and set aside.
  3. Shuckthe peas. Bring water to a boil in a small pot.  Add the peas and adash of salt and bring it to a boil.  Turn off heat. Drain the peas andset aside.
  4. In  a medium size pot, heat the Dashi overmedium heat until it begins to simmer. Lower the heat. Add sake, soysauce, cut wakame seaweed and Tofu.
  5. In a cup, dissolvethe cornstarch with equal amounts of water.  Very gently, add a little soup to the starch mixture and keep mixing it until the starch startsto get thick and gluey.  Add more soup to make mixture thinner.  Slowly add mixture to the soup and stir it in. The soup will become slightly thicker. Taste the soup to see if it needs a little more soy sauce.  Do not over season.  
  6. Add the peas.
  7. Serve immediately in small soup bowls.

 

Note:Once the peas, tofu, and seaweed have been added to the soup, don't reheat the soup over and over.  The color and flavor of the soup willdiminish.